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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
May 12, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division on Civil Rights
- J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, Director

 

Lee Moore
609-292-4791

 

AG Harvey Announces Finding of Probable Cause in Sexual Harassment Case;
Tire Business Accused of Subjecting Female Employee to Hostile Work Environment

TRENTON – Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and the Division on Civil Rights announced today that the State has issued a Finding of Probable Cause against an Essex-County tire business and its owner for allegedly discriminating against a female employee by subjecting her to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, and for firing her as an act of reprisal after she complained.

Named as a Respondent in the Finding of Probable Cause document is L & C Tire Services and its owner, Leonardo Albarracin, of Newark. Complainant Marilyn Flores, also of Newark, alleges that, while employed as a receptionist for L & C Tire, her supervisor, Albarracin, routinely asked her out, attempted to kiss her, and fondled her. Flores also alleges that she was fired in retaliation for rejecting Albarracin’s overtures, and for complaining about the harassment. The conduct at issue allegedly took place between October 2003 and February 2004.

A Finding of Probable Cause means the State has completed its investigation, and has determined there is sufficient evidence to support a reasonable suspicion that the actions of L & C and its owner violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD).

“The conduct alleged in this complaint is demeaning, and a direct affront to working women. Moreover, it constitutes a violation of the law, ” said Attorney General Harvey. “Employers must understand that people do not forfeit their right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be free of harassing behavior, once they report for work.”

According to Harvey, Albarracin has acknowledged to Division on Civil Rights investigators that he asked Flores for a kiss, and also slapped her buttocks.

In addition, the Attorney General said, an interview by Division investigators with another employee of L & C Tire provided corroboration of Flores’ allegations.

“Sixty years after New Jersey established the nation’s first state anti-discrimination law, we are still fighting the same basic fights,” said Division on Civil Rights Director J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo. “We are committed to ensuring that all New Jerseyans know the time has come for this kind of unlawful discrimination to end.”

Now that a Finding of Probable Cause has been issued, the case moves into a phase known as Conciliation, a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in which the parties make a final attempt to resolve the matter.

If it is not resolved at Conciliation, the matter will be referred to the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, where an Administrative Law judge will hold a formal hearing or non-jury trial on the merits of the case, and issue an Initial Decision.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) provides that each Respondent found to have committed a violation is subject to a penalty of up to $10,000, provided he or she has not been convicted of a previous violation within the past five years. Respondents who have violated the LAD within the past five years are subject to a penalty of up to $25,000, while those who have been convicted of two or more violations within the past seven years are subject to a penalty of up to $50,000.

The Division on Civil Rights is responsible for enforcing the LAD and the Family Leave Act. Specifically, the Division investigates allegations of discrimination in employment, housing, places of public accommodation and credit. Its offices are located in Atlantic City, Camden, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, and Trenton. Further information about the Division is available on its Web site www.NJCivilRights.org.

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